Five years ago next Monday saw the terrible events of 11 September 2001. While millions around the world mourned, George Bush and the neoconservatives around him were busy plotting to use the attacks as a pretext for unleashing terror across the world.
They launched their “war on terror”, unleashing destruction on Afghanistan and then Iraq and Lebanon. In Britain, prime minister Tony Blair vowed to stand shoulder to shoulder with the US’s imperial onslaught.
The world has become a much more dangerous place than it was five years ago – and the warmongers have learned nothing from their disasters. Only last week Bush threatened “consequences for Iran’s defiance” over the nation’s plans to build nuclear power stations.
But another voice has been heard over the last five years – that of resistance. It is the resistance of people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Lebanon – together with the powerful voice of the global anti-war movement – that has delayed Bush’s plans to attack Syria and Iran.
We have a chance to make that voice heard on the streets of Manchester on 23 September.We can let Blair and New Labour know that we oppose any attack on Iran, we want the troops to come home – and we want him to leave office for his war crimes.
Mad monk syndrome
On 19 October 1974, Sir Keith Joseph, the Conservative spokesman on home affairs, made a speech in Edgbaston, Birmingham, which caused outrage.
“The balance of our population, our human stock is threatened,” said Joseph. “A high and rising proportion of children are being born to mothers least fitted to bring children into the world and bring them up.
“They are born to mothers who were first pregnant in adolescence in social classes four and five. They are producing problem children, the future unmarried mothers, delinquents, denizens of our borstals, subnormal educational establishments, prisons, hostels for drifters.”
His words, and his call to “extend birth control facilities to these classes of people” earned him the name “the mad monk”. Yet his ideas went on to form a central part of Thatcherism. He was bitterly hated for his class war against the poor.
Incredibly, the basic shape of those outlandish Tory ideas are now what passes for common sense in the Labour government’s cabinet.When Tony Blair speaks of intervention “even pre?birth” for children of “dysfunctional families”, he is echoing the most disgusting nostrums of Thatcherism.
Most of us in the anti-war movement, whether in the Labour Party or not, look forward to the day Tony Blair leaves Downing Street.
But what will happen when he does? Gordon Brown will take the helm. The atrocities in Iraq, Afghanistan and possibly Iran will continue – as will the privatisation of our public services.
If we want change we have to challenge neo?liberalism, not just New Labour. There has to be a real alternative. That’s why it is vital to build a strong and vibrant Respect coalition as a political voice for those in the anti-war movement left out in the cold by the political establishment.